Click here to visit the official facebook of Montgomery Gun Productions.
Click here to visit the official facebook of the Rebel Pride Band.
Click here to visit the official facebook of Damond Jiniya.
Click here to visit the official facebook of Damond Jiniya's band Retribution.
October 2011 (live broadcast, Roman Midnight Music Podcast Episode #34)
Under The Gun, the only album by Montgomery Gun Productions, fuses hard rock with outlaw country ballads via an array of all star talent, featuring the late guitarist Matt LaPorte, mostly known for Jon Oliva's Pain. It also includes Savatage & Jon Oliva's Pain founder pianist-singer Jon Oliva. While the other half of the vocals are by Damond Jiniya of the final Savatage line-up & more recently of an array of Florida cover bands, including one dedicated to Nine Inch Nails, & recently released an album of originals under the name Herman / Nebula. The album is the child of songwriter Troy Montgomery of Florida who spent a lifetime loving music & writing lyrics, but, as he says in this interview, was "too busy being a serious businessman" to ever make his dream come true of making music. Under The Gun is that dream come true that through its decade in the making had close encounters with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Iron Horse & the Outlaws, plus was a key in forming the core of Jon Oliva's Pain. It's also nothing but a gold nugget in the discographies of all involved, though greatly under-looked.
This was the first episode of my podcast where I interviewed exclusively a songwriter. I had always talked to folks who were singers-songwriters or guitarists-songwriters, but not just a songwriter who didn't appear on his own album. The one live show ended up taking on its own flow beyond my expectations with surprise guests & a history of the album I didn't know. Surprise guests calling in included guitarist Tom Spittle of the Rebel Pride Band who helped in the initial demos & Damond. We had reached out to Jon to call in, an interview with the talkative musical genius a prize moment, particularly as I'm a fan of Savatage. He didn't & I don't know if he ever heard the show or even knew about it. One can hope & he liked what he heard. Damond had been invited but expected to be gigging the night of the broadcast with his covers band Retribution. It should be noted that for nearly a decade he had refused most interviews, particularly those related to Savatage, It was only a few months earlier he'd broken that doing a print interview in a Brazilian publication. I had promised him that if he should be able to call in, outside of obvious references, I would ask no direct questions about Savatage, of which I kept my promise. But, for the fans, we would later do a pre-recorded interview about Savatage I would broadcast as this first interview went so well. This was the first interview related to Under The Gun & the only one that brought this trio of contributors together. It was a very unique experience talking to these 3 guys, brought some new people into my world who I still communicate with, & was a highlight of my interviews. This is why live radio is so much fun.
AJ: Troy, welcome so much to my show. Thank you for taking time out to talk with me.
TROY: Aaron, thank you so much for having me on. I've been looking very forward to this & very excited our project Under The Gun.
AJ: Troy, you have this new album out, but you also have quite a career behind you building up to this album that is, in many ways, a part of the reason I asked you to join me. I was really excited by some of the stories you have e-mailed me about your experiences. They're very unique & there's a real excitement about what you went through in your career that eventually led you to forming Under The Gun Productions. Just briefly, because the beginning really is the best place to start, can you help me out? Who is Troy Montgomery?
TROY: Sure, Aaron. I grew up like everybody else. I loved music & very into stuff. I grew up working as an insurance adjuster, working for my father when I got out of high school, straight into the business world. I always had a big passion for music, but I was too busy being a serious businessman & just being a serious guy. Once I reached about ... well, I actually started writing lyrics 22/23 years of age. I got to where I would literally just pull over to the side of the road in my travels & I would write a whole song or a half of one, ideas & lyrics. I did that for 15 years, Aaron. My passion grew for music. I got older & older & saw that time was just slipping away. You know I just wished I could have done it over & started out playing guitar when I was 16, but I didn't. So, as I finally hit about 37/38 years old I finally had enough material, plenty of it to probably do a couple albums, but irregardless, it got me to where I was ready to do the project Under The Gun. Like I say, I was always a business person doing what I do, like most of these guys spent their whole lives & career trying to be a musician because that's where they're at. So, I started a little late in life. However, it's never too late to follow your dream & follow your passion. That's what I did. As time went on I basically wanted to put this thing in gear & make it happen. One thing led to another & I got fortunate enough to meet ... a friend of mine knew Damond Jiniya & another guy in the studio where I began recording this, where Under The Gun first started. It's like I say, one thing led to the other. I basically went into the studio with a buddy of mine, Tommy Spittle, from the REBEL PRIDE BAND. I really had no experience about writing a song or didn't really know much about how to approach it, but I knew I had some good ideas, good lyrics & I wanted to make it work. So, that's where it all started. I brought Tom Spittle in. At that same time he introduced me to Matt LaPorte. Matt was just a young guy then in his early 20's. Phenomenal, amazing guitar player. Real nice quiet guy that was just absolutely the most amazing guitar player you'd ever seen. So, we went into the studio. That's where I met Damond. Matt came in with me & Tommy in the studio & he just couldn't stand it. We just started hammering on the first song & it just started going real smooth. We started to record his first guitar tracks & Matt just got so excited he jumped in on it & took over the project, basically, as far as the guitar parts. Things went real well. Obviously, long story short, before it was over with we ended up with Under The Gun. But, in that process, right off the git go, once we started this album I did not know Jon Oliva. I knew who he was but I did not know him personally. So, I was working with Damond & even though Damond had just done touring for 4 years with SAVATAGE [with Jon], I didn't know Jon personally. So, it just happened, the way it worked out, I knew another friend who introduced me to Jon at the same time I began working in the studio. It all worked out. Next thing you know, I met Jon & we were working on this project. Everything just grew & took off real quickly. We started talking about who were some of my inspirations, people that inspired me in the music business. I was a huge TESLA fan. I said to Matt 'I love TESLA & I love the acoustic guitar & I want to do something kinda TESLA.' So, that's how it grew. We started working on "Under The Gun" & it just caught on fire & seemed to be a great song. Before you know it, we finished the song & we just thought that it seemed like a hit. It was the first song we'd done in the studio & it was a great start. So, from there, basically, Matt wrote this guitar riff which turned into the song "Illusion/Fantasy". After we got about 2 or 3 songs in the studio that's when I met the great Jon Oliva. He saw where I was at with my project & next thing you know magic happened. We spent the next 2 years in the studio, but we accomplished it. That's where it all began, Aaron.
AJ: That's a long story short, I know. Now, you had written to me once that you had brought Jon in, but at one point he offered even to help fund the project or to take some of the money through his company. He also contributed a song because he was so enjoying your project.
TROY: Absolutely. We started working together & at first it basically Jon was going to be a musician for hire type thing. We got along so well & liked each other's personalities. I guess the honesty & sincerity of who we were as people. It just took off from there & he was no longer a musician for hire. We were songwriting partners. We were working in Audio Lab Studios at the time & Jon was recording a 2004 [JON OLIVA'S PAIN] album, I think it was 'Tage Mahal actually. So, he got to use some of his studio time with his record company & book some of our time through the studio & help donate to the project. So, like I said, it turned into a partnership.
TROY: It was a 2 year fill. It was very interesting all this culmination of musicians that came together to create this album. Greg Marchak whose traveled the world with Jon as Jon's personal live sound engineer. Greg was an awesome guitar player. Greg has passed away since then. He sat in on 2 songs & played a beautiful 1972 Telecaster on "When The Heart Breaks" & "Love Now". It was just beautiful music & Greg had a deep passion for what we were doing, as well. So, several people got to donate to this project & very talented people. I was very fortunate & very blessed, Aaron.
AJ: That's great. It's a real group effort. Troy, I have someone on the phone who I'd like to bring on. Hello, caller, who am I talking to?
TOM SPITTLE: This is Tom Spittle from REBEL PRIDE.
AJ: Hey! We've got on the phone the guitarist from the REBEL PRIDE BAND, which is one of the bands who work with Troy & Montgomery Gun Productions. Tommy, thank you for calling up & joining us tonight. It's a real pleasure to have one of Troy's associates with us.
TOM: Glad to be aboard.
AJ: Any immediate thoughts on your mind?
TOM: I like to hear Troy pumping us all up. It's great to hear his voice on the radio.
AJ: Excellent. Tommy, you work with Troy through your own group REBEL PRIDE. How would we describe them? A southern rock band. LYNYRD SKYNYRD-ish, am I close?
TOM: Yeah, that's correct.
AJ: Also you were involved with Under The Gun, right?
TOM: First time I recorded on Under The Gun was in my garage. I came up with the melody. Troy had the lyrics, I came up with the melody line. Brian Jefferies from REBEL PRIDE came up with a lick to go with it. We recorded it on an 8 track recorder here in my garage. That's where it got started. I still have that demo.
TROY: How'ya doing there Tommy?
TROY: Aaron, it basically started with Tommy & REBEL PRIDE. I became friends with them & was actually a big fan of theirs for years. As time grew I later became their manager for a couple years. They were really dear friends of mine & it started there. Like he said, the birth of Under The Gun started in Tommy's garage. We did a rough demo & from there Tommy introduced me to Matt LaPorte. Me & Matt ended up in the studio & Tommy, all 3 of us, & things just started to grow from there.
TOM: That's what I get for being too busy! I missed the studio thing.
TROY: Yeah, Tommy got so busy he didn't get to hang in there for a lot of the stuff we did. He's a busy man. He plays with 3 or 4 different groups at a time, rotating with different bands. Great writer. A songwriter in his own right. Tommy is an awesome guitar player. Tommy is such a talented man. He plays the flute, he plays guitar, he plays keyboards, he plays drums, he plays bass. The guy can play anything. A very well rounded individual, musician & a very long time friend that I call him a brother for what, 15 years now, Tommy?
TOM: Yup. You can know many things, but it all starts with that lyric, doesn't it?
TROY: It all starts with the idea, I guess, it sure does.
TOM: Starts with that lyric.
TROY: I just started writing a song. It really come from Brian Jefferies. He told me one time, 'Troy, I want you to write me a song about a ramblin' gamblin' honky-tonkin' truck drivin' man.' That was where it all started. I thought what could I come up with. Before you know it I started writing & when it was over I realized I had written a song about myself, pretty much. It pretty much was about me. I got done with it not realizing it. I guess I just told my story.
AJ: Guys, what was that first song you all hashed out in Tom's garage.
TROY & TOM: "Under The Gun".
AJ: Tom, obviously you were on the demo, but are you on the finished recording?
TOM: I don't think any of the parts I did make it on that final cut. I was in the studio the first day. Matt was there. He had better ideas. He ran with it & I let him.
AJ: But, hey, you're on the track as much as Troy is. It's those initial ideas. Troy, can you tell me the musician line-up for the final version of "Under The Gun"?
TROY: Basically, on that originally was Brian Jefferies. Matt did all the guitar parts, including bass. Steven Wright played the drums. Damond Jiniya did the vocals. That's pretty much it. You know what happened, Aaron, this is something we haven't even touched on ...
AJ: Go ahead.
TROY: When we started working on this project I was friends with the late great [guitarist] Hughie Thomasson from OUTLAWS, also he toured with LYNYRD SKYNYRD for 9 years. I'd known him from when I was a child growing up. Basically, once we started working, we targeted "Under The Gun" for LYNYRD SKYNYRD, so that's where you kinda hear a lot of these riffs. We built the song, after we wrote it, we basically built it around LYNYRD SKYNYRD for them to record it. We actually made it so far that Tommy was at my house, Hughie came to my house, Matt was there. We sat down & talked & basically I demoed that song to Hughie. Hughie was in Fort Myers, where [guitarist] Rickey Medlocke lives. They were working on an album [Edge of Forever]. Basically, Hughie heard the song & he played it for Rickey & they absolutely loved it, fell in love with it. Hughie sat at my house & told me how they loved the song & they were going to record it. He said that if something happens & LYNYRD SKYNYRD does not record the song he'll definitely do it as the OUTLAWS. He told us that in a couple years he planned on getting back & starting up the OUTLAWS again, which he did. So, basically, ]guitarist] Gary Rossington was the one who wanted 50% publishing rights to the song, which basically is what stopped the project. I got an entertainment attorney that kinda advised me, 'Troy, they didn't do anything to deserve half the song.' I was willing to cut them some publishing rights, of course, but they wanted 50% & we kinda bowed out on that. But, anyway, LYNYRD SKYNYRD loved the song. Johnny Van Zant personally heard it on Hughie's radio. He's like, 'Who was that?' Hughie just said, 'Some boys from Brooksville.' Tommy is on the other line, so I'm sure he'll be witness to all this. All the guys from SKYNYRD heard it. All the boys loved it, but they basically wanted half the publishing rights, which really wasn't a fair deal. To make a long story short, that's how far that song got & then, of course later on, Hughie, after they wouldn't renegotiate his contract & give him the number he wanted, he started back up with the OUTLAWS. Unfortunately, he was making his brand new album & he passed away while the album was in the process. That's how close "Under The Gun" came to being a LYNYRD SKYNYRD song & an OUTLAWS song. Figured I'd give you that stuff & Tommy is my witness here.
TOM: You know, it's great to hear Matt play again. I haven't listened to his stuff since he passed away & it was like he came back to life again. It's amazing. The guitar work is phenominal.
AJ: Thanks for reminding us of this. He was a great musician, many of us know him, many of us don't, but I'm sure anyone who listens to his stuff is going to start playing air guitar. Or, maybe it's just me. Also, I love hearing Damond sing on this, because I only know him from SAVATAGE & that's only bootleg youtube recordings. Here he's doing something a little different & showing this great range. It's fun for me to hear.
TOM: You know Damond is still going around town kicking butt. Right now he's probably out singing right now here in Tampa.
TROY: A great contributing factor. I mean, everybody played a part, of course, in that song ... I have to tell you that I don't ... That song, also as you know, Aaron, got re-cut by [guitarist] Ronny Keel, he was doing an album with IRONHORSE. [Singer] Jason Aldean is with the label, I can't think of it off the top of my head, but irregardless they recorded the song & actually sent me the whole album. They were ready to get signed & they got as far as they did recording "Under The Gun", but it ended up they did not get the record deal. So, to make a long story short, Ronny Keel actually did re-record that song himself when he had Matt join the band. So that song almost got picked up by SKYNARD, re-recorded by Keel, but never released. That song has got a lot of history. But, getting back to Damond Jiniya. That guy, he really made the song. Damond put his heart into it & he brought that song alive with his passion & his vocals. Just a little of enough grit in it just to make that song ... he brought it alive. Even when Ronny covered the vocals, he just didn't ... he did a great job, but nobody has come close to what Damond did to that song.
AJ: He doesn't dominate any of the songs on Under The Gun. He lets them take him somewhere vocally.
TROY: Absolutely, that's right.
AJ: That's really what you want. Actually, I think, Troy, listening to the album, it is really a group project. You gave these guys this platform & they let it envelope them.
AJ: They didn't come in & say 'I'm Jon Oliva & I'm going to play this way.' No, he worked within what you gave him & is inspired by it. It really is MONTGOMERY GUN PRODUCTIONS, not the Troy Allen Montgomery album.
TROY: It was a group effort & everybody played a very serious part in it. Everybody was mutually important. Everybody did their parts. Like I said, they brought the song alive. I don't know anybody that can sing that song better than Damond. Anybody alive out there now.
TOM: You're a good team builder, Troy, that's why it all came together that way.
TROY: Thank you, Tommy.
AJ: I have someone else here on the line, guys. We'll expand the table settings here. Hello, caller, who do I have here?
CALLER (DAMOND JINIYA): This is Damond Jiniya.
AJ: Oh, my goodness!
TROY: Hey, Damond.
DAMOND: Hey, buddy, how you doing?
TOM: Hey, Damond.
DAMOND: What's going on, guys?
TROY: I was just telling about your killer vocals.
DAMOND: Wow, it was really cool. I turned the podcast on right at the end of it. It was really cool to hear Matt.
TROY: Yeah, he was perfect on that.
DAMOND: It just sounded amazing, you know.
AJ: Damond, it is a pleasure to have you on here. The former voice of SAVATAGE, the former voice of DIET OF WORMS & now playing in the Tampa area of Florida with your own cover band RETRIBUTION. Damond, thank you so much for joining us this evening. It is a pleasure to finally get to hear your voice after you & I have chit-chatted on e-mail.
DAMOND: Oh, yeah, definitely. I was glad I was able to give you guys a call tonight. We were actually booked to play. The venue turned country, so we were kinda out of a gig. Which is no problem, but we don't play predominantly country. We do a little bit more, you know ...
TOM: Gotta get the REBEL PRIDE BAND.
AJ: We've got someone here, Damond, who can take that slot. Sorry, Tommy, you missed the gig tonight. Damond, before we go any further, let's make a mention of RETRIBUTION. Would you mind giving a little plug or sharing about your current music?
DAMOND: Sure, RETRIBUTION started about 2 years ago as basically a cover band working to try to, you know, work as a musician. It's kinda tough to be a songwriter & make a lot of money. So, I went in & started doing covers. I developed a really good repertoire with my guitar player & we became a really good songwriting team. For the last year & a half we've been working on an original record that we're kinda putting the finishing touches on.
AJ: Excellent. I know you guys are booked with gigs through the end of the year, so you guys are playing a lot, too.
DAMOND: Yeah, we've been really blessed. We added Shawn Lowrey, our drummer, whose in CARNIVAL OF CRUE. He's a real good asset to the band. He's real diverse. We try to play a little bit of everything. You know, it's a broad audience, from heavy metal to country. We even do "Rockin' Robin'" & "Unchained Melody" in there somewhere.
AJ: Excellent. Well, Damond, Tommy Spittle & Troy were telling earlier about recording Under The Gun in Tommy's garage & Troy detailed the creation of this project a little bit. Meeting up with you & later with Jon Oliva & Matt LaPorte. Can you share some of your memories & thoughts on Under The Gun?
DAMOND: Oh, yeah. I was living at DIET OF WORMS studio, which was basically a house that was made into a studio by myself & our guitar player. It was basically for our band & then our guitar player went on to get outside clients & started working with Troy. I was asleep one day & I got up & walked into the studio & met Troy & Matt. They were working on a really good song. It was "Illusion/Fantasy". It was really cool. As Troy may have mentioned, it was very TESLA-ish.
AJ: Yes, he did.
DAMOND: & one of the greatest guitar solos in any song I've ever heard. I'm a big JANE'S ADDICTION fan & it kinda reminded me of something Dave Navarro would have written on some of the earlier stuff. A really interesting mix of blues, funk & soul, rock & psychedelica. So, I was really interested. I was kinda offered the gig. My guitarist had mentioned that I sing & I hit it off with Troy & he asked me to sing, you know, to demo the record. Of course, I loved it, so I took him up on it. It was a great experience. We worked really well, Troy & myself, at putting out that song pretty quickly. It just came together. Then "Under The Gun" came after & it was also a ... it didn't really take very long, so I guess it's good when it doesn't take very long to accomplish. Some people go into the studio & it takes them a year to write a good song. While Troy was able to accomplish a lot ... Troy & Matt both, were able to accomplish a lot in a very short amount of time. I mean, that was really rare ... as far as my professional dealings.
AJ: Damond, as I said, most of us know you not necessarily from DIET OF WORMS, but with your time with SAVATAGE, which is a particular type of prog metal singing. I've heard a little bit of RETRIBUTION, which is also rock. But, here you are with Troy working with what he's created, which has a bit more of a country outlaw element. It rocks, but as he was telling us earlier, it was a song written with LYNYRD SKYNYRD in mind. As a vocalist coming at this project ... for someone like me who knows you for a particular style ... do you have any thoughts on this?
DAMOND: My mom [Maureen O'Connor] was a singer & she was basically a country western singer. I grew up in Nashville. My earliest experiences were ... I was 4 years old when I got on the stage to join her & from that point on it was love. I sang in her show. I was this little kid act. I would get into talent contests. I sang with unknowns that became super stars, like Randy Travis, John Michael Montgomery. They were hosting like open jam nights or talent contests that I had entered. So, that was really my background, older country. When I met Troy it just seemed like a good fit. I'm very diverse in everything I like, but my heart is really in country music. I love it. Nothing makes me feel better than when I'm listening to Patsy Cline or Hank Williams or something like that. That really touches a unique deep spot in my soul.
AJ: Fascinating to hear you say that. Tommy, Troy, Damond, let me pose a question to each of you. You've each played a different role in the creation of this album over many years. Let me ask, starting with you, Troy, what has been the biggest challenge that you've dealt with in this project? The same question to all of you.
TROY: The biggest challenge in this project?
AJ: Or, maybe not challenge, but the growing moment, we could say. Whichever is easier for you.
TROY: The album came together really well, though everything is about time & money, you know. We've got the time but not the money, or the money not the time. So, they both became a challenge sometimes, but that was some of the biggest things I was up against. & working with guys that are such a stellar talent as Damond & Jon. You know, Jon being a very important man & a very busy guy, working on TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA projects writing their music, writing his own album, plus working with me. Jon was working on 3 albums in one year at one time & the next year he went on to work on another JON OLIVA'S PAIN album. Basically, the biggest challenge I found was trying to get studio time booked that was good for me, good for the studio & open for Jon & guys like Damond, because sometimes I had to work around their schedules, being blessed & lucky enough to work with these guys. It came together good, but Jon was probably the challenging one, being the busiest guy, probably. That was my biggest challenge. How about you, Tommy?
TOM: Same thing, it always is for Time Management Tommy. I passed it off to Matt & introduced you to Matt, simply because I was just so overwhelmed with things going on in my life. That's one big regret that I have, that I didn't have more time to help you out with it.
DAMOND: I was lucky, because, you know, I kinda came in as a hired guy, so I didn't have to experience the labor of love of the whole songwriting process & Troy was very easy to work with. I guess logistically it was location. I had moved back to Nashville in 2003 & Troy came up to Nashville to finish tracking with me up there & then when I came back down to Florida to track he had booked time. He worked with me a lot, so there were no challenges for me because Troy was very accommodating to my schedule & everything that I had going on.
AJ: Damond, of the stuff that you sang on the album, outside of "Under The Gun", do you have a favorite song or one that as a vocalist that you really got into?
DAMOND: "When The Heart Breaks". Yeah, that was my favorite.
DAMOND: There were a couple songs that we demoed at my house & it was after not a lot of sleep, a lot of work, & I kinda worked on it at 4 o'clock in the morning with Troy. He gave me the melody & I was tired & I was raspy. It was just like blah. My voice was shot. With this melody that he had given me it just came out so emotional, without intention, you know, I wasn't trying to intentionally be emotional. His melody was so beautiful with the raspiness that it was just kinda like chocolate & peanut butter or something. It just kinda worked.
AJ: I have to tell you, Damond, it's fascinating. I'm a little shocked that this is the song you'd choose. It's probably my favorite on the album.
DAMOND: Oh, cool.
AJ: When Troy first sent me the album & I was listening on headphones. I stopped that track mid-way, pulled off the headphones, turned on the speakers, turned to my roommate & said 'We are going to listen to this new album, because I've gotten through half the song & I'm loving it & have to share.' It's funny, because you said this was the song that came in that maybe less than perfect moment, but yet is the one that really drove home.
DAMOND: Troy was very smart to put that at the beginning of the album because it really does hook you. Everybody I've played it for says that they like it. It just grabs you, whether you like country or not, it's got something to it & it takes you on a journey, you know.
AJ: It's interesting you saying that. I had the opportunity to interview vocalist Graham Bonnet of RAINBOW & I played my favorite song by him. He told me that was the song he only recorded once, because as soon as it was over he passed out as he was as drunk as a skunk singing it. Yet, it's the song that everyone says is one of his best. So, it's ironic that here you are an artist preparing your voice & keeping it good, yet it's that 4 am recording session when you're barely awake that turns into that gold nugget.
DAMOND: Oh yeah. You know emotion is better than performance sometimes.
AJ: Guys, I just want to say before I forget, thank you all for joining me tonight & sharing this experience. It means a lot to me.
TROY: Thank you so much, Aaron, for having us.
AJ: This album was a near decade long project. Troy, when you look back on this on this project, what are your overall feelings about this journey?
TROY: I'll tell you. We took a couple years recording it & about 11 years to get it out & for sale. Basically, I'm just glad finally ... I kinda dropped the ball on it. I tried shopping it. We just recorded it to be demos, basically to sell in Nashville. Well, after the industry took a dive & record companies were going out of business & Napster & all these downloads & stuff, it was just so hard to sell. So, I kinda just let it go in limbo. Finally I said, 'We've just got some great stuff here. There's a couple really good songs here. We're just gonna take this demo out & print it & sell it as an album.' So, it was never intended to be an album. But, finally, I just did it. I shot for it & there you go, we got it. Glad I did.
AJ: Taking what you just said, this is really an expensive demo, you could say.
AJ: With that in mind, going back, if you had known when you did it that it would be an album, would you have done things differently? If this was intended to be an album not demos?
TROY: The only thing I would have done differently maybe ... We kinda rushed through some of them. Some of the ones that Jon did the singing. A couple of them we probably could have cut the vocals a little better. But, he still did a great job, of course, but I think we could have gone back on a couple songs & fixed them up a little better. Made them a little prettier, so to speak. They still turned out well, but like I say, even though we spent a ton of money & time it was a demo. If I was just making an album I'd probably spend a little more production on the thing. That's about it, really. That's all I can say.
AJ: Tommy, this is a project that started as a bunch of guys getting together in your garage. I don't know what your garage looks like but I'm sure its like everybody else's ...
AJ: Exactly. Now, here it is, 11 years later. Your brother, your friend, your fellow musician & artist, is now presenting something to the world. What is your response?
TOM: Hey, if I'd known he was going to take it this seriously then, I would have taken it more seriously then. But, I was in other projects & I kept telling him I was too busy & now I really regret it because it came out great. It's a great album. Damond, you sound awesome. Just great songs. It was a good project.
AJ: Damond, the majority of the tracks on the album are your vocals. It's a stellar project to have on your resume, but again it was something you did a few years ago & here we are sharing what are demo tracks under the guise of a real album. When you listen to yourself singing what goes through your head?
DAMOND: Good times, you know. I had a really good time working with Troy & Matt as well. Matt was just a beaming ball of light. I would literally do a lot of these sessions, since I lived at the studio. From the time I woke up I would come in & do sessions, all sleepy-eyed & I hadn't had my coffee yet or whatever. Within 5 minutes of hanging out with Troy & Matt I was laughing & joking & in a great mood. So, it just brings back feelings of joy & elation & happiness.
AJ: Matt was a great guitar player who passed away this past year. Jon Oliva once called him the only guitarist who could replace his belated brother Criss, the two of them founding SAVATAGE & Jon basically leaving when Criss died. Troy, let's give a moment to Matt. Can you tell me the story you wrote to me. You are actually responsible for Matt getting into Jon's band JON OLIVA'S PAIN, where he would become well known.
TROY: Matt never knew Jon when I worked with Matt. He knew who he was, but he was not working with Jon. Basically, through our network of guys, I'm working with Jon & he obviously got to hear Matt's work with me & he was so impressed. That later led to Jon bringing Matt aboard. Basically, for those that know the story, he really loved his brother Criss. After all these years, the only one who ever filled the shoes of Criss Oliva was Matt LaPorte. When Matt passed away it was hard on everybody. It was hard on Jon, because Jon had felt like he had finally grasped a replacement or as close as he could get to his brother. It was a tragic loss.
AJ: Criss's death through Jon into a tizzy & a downward spiral into different addictions as he found his band moving out of his hands into those of producer of Paul O'Neill. Though, the irony is that from this tragedy eventually SAVATAGE would morph into TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, which would become more successful. Damond, did you record all your vocals after the music was laid down?
DAMOND: Nope. The first few tracks were being re-recorded at DIET OF WORMS studios, so I was there during a lot of the early process.
TROY: The beginning.
DAMOND: I know a lot of it was re-recorded later, but I got to be around for a lot of the early performances. Like, one of the songs on the album, "Grey Rider", I was there in the studio while Matt was playing that. It astounded me to see his fingers & the solo. I don't think I had ever, even with all the professional people I had worked with, seen anybody play that well & have so much emotion in their fingers. The solo at the end of that song is another incredible solo. There's so many solos on the album. I just remember coming in there & seeing him play that & I was just completely blown away. Incredible.
AJ: Damond, you've mentioned this a few times & I know what this is, but just for those who don't, you talk about the DIET OF WORMS studio. That's named after a musical outing of yours. Can you clarify what DIET OF WORMS is?
DAMOND: DIET OF WORMS was actually based on Martin Luther & it goes back to the 17th century Germany. Basically he protested the Catholic Church. There's nothing remotely religious about the Diet Of Worms, but it was an interesting notion of rebellion & rebelling something that was the status quo. That's kinda where DIET OF WORMS spawned from.
AJ: It a studio & the band you were in.
DAMOND: You always remember it. 'Diet of worms, that's gross.' It was an electronic band, kinda conceptual. I was writing a lot at the time. Trying to work on the great American novel, you know. When we were doing the recording process, especially for our second album The Aquarius, we brought in a lot of the science-fiction I was writing at the time. It's kinda weird, now with everything kinda happening in the world, I sorta ... you know they always say science-fiction becomes science fact ... last year we toyed with the notion of revamping The Aquarius, Aquarius II for 2012 as that was one of the mentions in the story that was written in like 1997. A lot of similarities to things that were going on. It was kinda geeky stuff at the time, but now it's all sort of coming true.
AJ: The irony of it. Here you mention you have this electronica outing, you did heavy metal with SAVATAGE, I also know you auditioned for the TV show Rockstar: INXS. You were a finalist for that even though you decided it wasn't your cup of tea. You've done now some outlaw country rock & here you are with RETRIBUTION doing 80's rock & heavy metal. There's probably others, so excuse me if I haven't mentioned other things. & I know you're also a writer & a poet. How do you see the music of Damond Jiniya the vocalist? How do you see his career? His output?
DAMOND: I don't look at it as a career, but as a life's body of work. To kinda make it a career is to sort of make it final, I guess, & put something on it that almost cages it. In the end you're only remembered for what you create & I hope to create a lot of different things for a lot of different people, because you never know whose going to listen to it.
AJ: That's an excellent response. That's a perfect response. I'm not implying that you have topped your bottle any. I hope you will share with me your new music & we can continue this story someday.
AJ: Let me just ask in closing. Is there anything we haven't hit on that you'd like to share?
TOM: Back in the time that Troy started that CD I missed out on it & I regret it, but I was making my own CD at the time, so check out REBEL PRIDE BAND. A shameless personal plug.
AJ: I'll add that if one youtubes REBEL PRIDE there's a few videos of you up there live. A great southern country rock band that draws from the classic rock repertoire, really, playing a classic rock style.
TOM: Yup, we kept it alive.
AJ: There's not enough people doing that. Damond, anything else that I've not asked about or you'd like to share?
DAMOND: RETRIBUTION is playing in Tampa, Florida! Come & check us out. We play all the weird music that people may nor or may want to hear. We also have a duo called NAKED BEACH, that's just kinda what it sounds like - stripped down. We don't get naked. We strip the music down & just play it acoustic.
AJ: Troy, anything you'd like to share?
TROY: Once again, I just want to thank Damond & Tommy both & all the guys involved in my project. Pick up a copy. Not only did we have Matt LaPorte, but gotta remember Greg Marchak is a killer musician, who also played guitar, who passed away. So, there are 2 musicians on that album who were just awesome, stellar & they have both passed away. So there is some amazing work on that album that can't be repeated again. I encourage everybody to get a copy of that. I thank Damond & Tommy for doing such a great job helping with with my album.
TOM: Our pleasure.
DAMOND: No problem. It was a pleasure.
AJ: How does Troy Montgomery of 2011 compare to Troy Montgomery rocking out in Tommy's garage? How have you changed?
TROY: I'll put it this way - a lot of experience. I've lived through so much growth in the 11 years. When I started out I couldn't play a guitar. Now I can play a guitar. I'm not a great guitar player by no means, but I can pick up a guitar & play about 20 songs. & I've been in the management business. Managed REBEL PRIDE. Managed to get them on CMT [Country Music Television] & did a show called The Biggest Redneck Wedding Ever. It's as redneck as it sounds. We always talked how we'd love to get REBEL PRIDE on CMT & we did. Whether it was 2 minutes or 3 minutes we made national TV & that was our goal our whole time. So, we hit it. The short time we got didn't matter, as we hit our goal. I did a lot of learning & a lot of growing, Aaron. I learned a lot from my fellow musicians. I'd love to do another album. This time it would be pretty much outlaw southern rock, which is pretty much what's on my mind. I've got all my lyrics wrote. Just trying to keep my mouth shut as much as possible & my ears & eyes open. I'm sure we all grew together, but these guys have a career in this stuff & I didn't even get involved in recording until I hit late 30's. I'm glad I finally picked up on it.
AJ: Thanks, man. I'm going to let you all head out now, but just want to say a big thank you for joining me tonight. Troy, if I had the time I'd just play the album over & over on the air from front to back.
DAMOND: He's a great writer.
AJ: It's just really great & we've really barely been able to touch upon it in our time together. There's so much more we could talk about. Just to have you with me, Troy, just for this little bit I thank you so much. If there's anymore I can do for you don't hesitate to ask. Tommy, thank you for calling in.
TOM: Thank you, Aaron.
AJ: I really appreciate having your point of view here of this guy who was just jamming, you know, with his buddy. I rarely get that point of view in an interview. I've listened to REBEL PRIDE on youtube & I look forward to hearing more.
TOM: I want to make one more plug, speaking of youtube videos. Make sure you check out the video that goes with "Illusion/Fantasy" from Under The Gun. That's a good rock video right there.
AJ: That's a video that features 2 things. Damond on vocals & lots of sexy women.
DAMOND: It's one sexy woman.
AJ: It's just one?
DAMOND: It's one sexy woman in a lot of different outfits. To create the illusion & fantasy of a lot of different women.